I know, that sounds like something you can blame Obama for and Sean and all his cohorts can carry on about with hysteria and vitriol for at least a week. But no, I was simply headed back for one of my occasional visits to El Federal, San Martín 1015 in Retiro for lunch with my friend Judithe. I first came to this place in my early, formative Buenos Aires years when my friend Victor suggested we meet there and introduced me to chef Paula Comparatore. It’s one of my favorite places to lunch in the downtown area and I’ve been there many a time, even re-reviewing it with a lot of updates just a couple of years ago. I’ve never been, however, for dinner. But, perhaps mindful of that, Paula, who was away for a well-deserved break for a few days, had instructed her staff to offer us the seven-course dinner tasting menu (400 pesos each) at lunchtime, on her. Nice! We just picked the wine and water and covered that and a tip.

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Cheese and green onion empanada with a medium spicy rocoto chili sauce. Delicious start!

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A panko coated dorado fishcake with coconut, coriander and honey sauces. A little sweet, but not over the top and we certainly didn’t leave any morsels on the plate.

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Carpaccio of rhea (South American ostrich) with olive oil, parmesan and microgreens. We liked it, though thought that the parmesan may have been a touch too strong for the other flavors.

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You know I like my poached eggs, and this one was perfectly cooked (sous vide) with a smashed potato cake, tomato sauce, grilled prawns and crispy bacon. What’s not to love?

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Chilean sea bass (or, Patagonian toothfish, as the menu correctly translates it without succumbing to over-hyped marketing terms), perfectly cooked, juicy and flaky, with small butter poached mussels, creamy potato puree, and an orange vinaigrette. My favorite course. Or was it the egg?

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Getting a bit full at this point, so to be honest we just tasted the Malbec and merquén braised lamb with grilled mushrooms and confited baby carrots, then had them pack up what was left for Judithe to take home for dinner. Excellent dish and I wish I’d had more room.

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Likewise for the dessert – four small portions, but just overkill at that point. And honestly, I’ve forgotten what they were – I had a bite of each (including a bite of the one on the far right before taking the photo) and loved all four, but just couldn’t keep eating. Then again, we hadn’t planned for a tasting menu – I’d been figuring on ordering a single main course of fish for my whole lunch!

As delightful as it always has been, and just reinforces why I keep El Federal on my Favorites list. Oh, and 400 pesos for all that, or 460 with a couple of glasses of selected house wines (which are of good quality), is a steal.

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Lines to Nazca

2014.Oct.22 Wednesday
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It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows us or reads these pages that we’re always checking out Peruvian restaurants in town. It’s Henry’s natal, and favorite, cuisine, and I’m quite fond of the stuff as well. Plus it gives me ideas for new directions to take our own. It is surprising to […]

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Lime Jello Salad

2014.Oct.21 Tuesday
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When Kevin and I first started talking about the idea of our online cooking challenges, one of the things we spent a fair amount of time discussing was the re-creation of classic dishes. Now, we were thinking, for the most part, of things like the challenges we’ve already done, classics like Sole Veronique and Pad […]

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Simple Simon met a pieman…

2014.Oct.20 Monday
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…going to the fair, Says Simple Simon to the pieman, Let me taste your ware. The last few days, for the third year, the Feria Masticar has come to town (not that it goes to other towns, at least as far as I know). In 2012, I, along with roughly 50,000 other people, checked out […]

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Random Acts of Training #1

2014.Oct.19 Sunday
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As regular readers know, I’ve been casting about for a new project of some sort, what with the 92 Bus Pizza Trek, The Chronicles of Shawarma, and all winding down. I happen to love trains. And, though the train system here is a shadow of its former self, it still heads off in various directions […]

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Snapshots of Dinner

2014.Oct.16 Thursday
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Every now and again (probably more often than that), I have email conversations with diners, or potential diners, that leave me mystified. Earlier this week a couple reserved for dinner for this week, only to cancel. Now in and of itself, that’s not unusual, but their reason – they didn’t like two ingredients that were […]

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Bite Marks #5

2014.Oct.13 Monday
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This time around, what do we have for you? A quartet of spots from casual to fancy, all relatively new – opened in the last few months. A couple of months back, when I was munching away happily on some fried chicken at the new NOLA Gastro Pub (and I’ve been back once and checked […]

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Thai-ing Knots

2014.Oct.11 Saturday
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Ding, Ding, Ding! It was time for another throwdown challenge in our Reinventing the Whisk series – Episode #6. Three cooks, and another reinvention task – this time, Kevin had the honor to select the dish and he picked that ubiquitous dish of modern Thai cuisine, Pad Thai or Phat Thai. It’s a dish with […]

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From Tentacle to Ear

2014.Oct.08 Wednesday
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Just a quick look back at last week’s menu. A bit of playing around with past dishes and a couple of completely new ones. A Humboldt squid and sand perch causa – layers of potato with ají amarillo and lemon, and green onion and lime; spiced olive oil poached squid tentacles (jibía), sauteed sand perch […]

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